In Depth

Autumn adventures, experiences and events in the UK and London

Hire the entire top floor of a castle or enrol in a gin school

Autumn has well and truly arrived but despite the wet weather and shorter days there’s still plenty of things to enjoy. 

A lot of tourist attractions are open, new hotels are coming onto the market and there’s many adventures you have in October and beyond. 

Here we pick out some of the best things to see and do across the United Kingdom and in London.

Events and things to do

London Cocktail Week 

London Cocktail Week returns in October and instead of seven days the event will last for the whole month. Hundreds of the best bars in the capital will be participating and a £15 wristband will give festival-goers exclusive access to £6 cocktails. 

1-31 October; londoncocktailweek.com and designmynight.com

58 Gin’s London Gin School

58 Gin, the artisan spirits distillery in Hackney, London, is reopening its Gin School on 2 October. Socially-distanced and curfew-friendly, the pre-booked sessions take place on Friday evenings (6.30pm-9.30pm) and Saturday afternoons (2pm-5pm). Participants will take home their own 70cl bottle of gin and a 58 Gin Lovers Party Bag containing Merchant Heart tonic and canned water. 

Various Fridays and Saturdays from 2 October; £120 per person or £199 for two; 58gin.com

The Whisky Lounge’s ‘Whisky Festival in a Box’ 

This virtual festival from 16-18 October is hosted by The Whisky Lounge founder Eddie Ludlow and features seven themed tasting sessions: Scotch #1, Scotch #2, World, Asian, English, Indie and Peated. Each “Whisky Festival in a Box” contains the following: six whiskies to taste for a chosen session (20ml each); a commemorative Glencairn glass; The Whisky Lounge pin badge; a can of Larkfire spring water; and a pipette to add the Larkfire spring water to your whisky. The first 175 people to buy any tasting session pack will also receive four mystery drams.

£35 for one Whisky in a Festival Box; 16-18 October; thewhiskylounge.com

The Gamekeeper’s Hut at Gleneagles 

Gleneagles hotel in Scotland will celebrate the flavours of autumn at its first ever Gamekeeper’s Hut. Making the most of Scotland’s exceptional autumnal produce, The Gamekeeper’s Hut will serve sustaining, hearty dishes to guests preparing for an adventure in the hills. There will be a slowly simmered pearl barley, lentil and root vegetable broth; a sourdough roll stuffed with red wine-braised venison; and an innovative wild boar, sage and onion Scotch egg served with sharp piccalilli. The chefs at Gleneagles will roll out fresh pastry each morning for their pheasant, bacon and leek pie, and a game, haggis and hazelnut sausage roll, with homemade mushroom ketchup. To finish, red wine-poached pears will come with a baked vanilla cream, and there will be s’mores ready to toast over the fire pit, while glasses of hot spiced apple juice and mulled wine ward off any Scottish chill.

10-11 October; gleneagles.com

Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery tours

Whisky lovers can find out how Dewar’s makes its blended Scotch by booking one of the three tour options at the brand’s home distillery in Aberfeldy, Scotland. Experiences include the Aberfeldy Tour, Cask Tasting Tour and Whisky Connoisseur’s Tour. Pre-booking is essential and until further notice, temperature checks and the wearing of face masks will be required.

Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery, Aberfeldy, Perthshire, PH15 2EB, Scotland; dewars.com

Bombay Sapphire Distillery tour and gin masterclass

Discover the ten exotic, sustainably-sourced botanicals in Bombay Sapphire gin and learn about the unique vapour infusion process on a guided distillery tour in Hampshire. Visitors will explore the distillery glasshouses and botanical dry room and see the Dakin Still House in action before enjoying a complimentary cocktail in the outdoor grounds. The gin cocktail masterclass is an interactive session which provides the opportunity to learn and create cocktails with the specially-trained gin experts.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery, London Road, Whitchurch RG28 7NR; bombaysapphire.com

Mayflower 400: Legend & Legacy exhibition at The Box, Plymouth

This new multi-disciplinary arts and heritage centre will finally open to the public and feature a free gallery that will be the largest of its kind in Britain. The Box in Plymouth will open on Tuesday 29 September with major exhibition Mayflower 400: Legend & Legacy. Created in partnership with the Wampanoag Advisory Committee, it commemorates 400 years since the first voyage of the Mayflower from Plymouth to America.

From 29 September; theboxplymouth.com

The Little Mermaid Cocktail Experience, London
The Little Mermaid Cocktail Experience, London 

Dive deep into a subversive tale of tails! Relive the centuries-old fairytale as you witness the human world collide with ocean life in a theatrical cocktail experience. Surrounded by stunning decor, talented actors and secrets to be uncovered, prepare to sip on mysterious cocktails as you immerse in the wonderful and magical world of the Little Mermaid.

Until 24 October, price £42.50; feverup.com

Drifters canal cruise to Castle Quay in Manchester
Drifters canal cruise to Castle Quay in Manchester 

Starting at Drifters’s canal boat hire base at Anderton on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Cheshire, it takes around ten-and-a-half hours to reach Castle Quay in Manchester, cruising along 31 miles of inland waterways and passing through just one lock. This route, which begins at the site of the incredible Anderton Boat Lift, aka “The Cathedral of the Canals”, is perfect for a four-night midweek break. It includes three tunnels, miles of countryside, the pretty village of Lymm and an urban section passing Manchester United FC, Salford Quays and the Old Trafford Cricket Ground, before reaching moorings at Castle Quay. 

The Laughing Gull, a 66ft narrowboat for up to six people, is available from 26-30 October for £999. Price includes damage waiver, gas, parking, tuition on arrival, towels, bedding and first pet. Fuel is extra. A £50 deposit is taken for a short break; drifters.co.uk

Hotel experiences

‘Taste of Japan’ package at The Prince Akatoki, London
‘Taste of Japan’ package at The Prince Akatoki, London 

London’s only five-star Japanese hotel has reopened and is offering a new “Taste of Japan” package to immerse guests in Japanese hospitality and culture. The Taste of Japan option sees guests welcomed into their rooms with delicacies such as matcha cake and sweet sushi rolls prepared by the hotel chef. Complimentary cocktails are offered in The Malt Lounge, whereby the drink preparation is turned into an art form and categorised by “Earth, Wind, Fire, Water and Void”. Traditional spirits are used such as sake, as well as quirkier flavours including yuzushu and homemade kumquat wasabi jam. The package also includes a sushi masterclass, sake tasting experience and a gift unique to Japan - an ikebana flower arrangement to take home.

Rates start from £229 and the sushi masterclass, sake tasting experience and Ikebana flowers are only included once per stay and for a maximum of two adults per room; theprinceakatokilondon.com

‘Into the Wild’ Cotswolds nature walk at Lower Mill Estate
‘Into the Wild’ Cotswolds nature walk at Lower Mill Estate

Get up close and personal with wildlife at Lower Mill Estate in the Cotswolds, a nature reserve where visitors can stay overnight. With more than 500 species to see, guests can take a stroll or head out onto the lakes and be rewarded with a sighting of a water bird, a deer or an otter. Guests staying this half term will get the chance to book a spot on the “Into the Wild” nature walk. Setting off at dusk, an expert guide will take the group on a tour of the estate pointing out otters, owls and other nocturnal beasts in their natural habitat. The walk will have a maximum of 16 participants, and it will take place in family bubbles. Other outdoor activities include kayaking, paddle-boarding, cycling, tennis and swimming. 

Prices start from £375 and the Into the Wild walk will take place on 25 October. Guests can reserve a ticket when booking accommodation; habitatescapes.com 

The Endeavour and Hebridean Sea Safari, Glenapp Castle, Scotland
The Endeavour and Hebridean Sea Safari, Glenapp Castle, Scotland 

The Ayrshire-based castle will launch its new penthouse apartment, “The Endeavour”, in mid-October. Through the conversion of the castle’s entire top floor, the Endeavour provides 4,500 sq ft of luxurious accommodation made up by four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a lounge with a dining room for up to 16 guests, a TV snug with seating for 12, a sauna, library, a games room, a private lift and a personal treatment room for massages and beauty treatments. The hotel also offers a sea safari aboard the Glenapp Castle boat for exploring the remote Hebridean islands. 

Guests can book the whole floor of The Endeavour from £3,950 per night on a B&B basis (April to October); glenappcastle.com

Places to stay: new hotels and reopenings

Buxton Crescent Health Spa Hotel, Derbyshire
Buxton Crescent Health Spa Hotel, Derbyshire

With 81 rooms and suites, the Buxton Crescent opens its doors on 1 October following an extensive refurbishment of one of England’s most significant Georgian architectural buildings. Reviving the wellness traditions of this historic spa town in Derbyshire, the Buxton Crescent is home to three pools - the thermal pool, a relaxation pool and an indoor-outdoor rooftop pool. The spa features eight treatment rooms and signature treatments include the thermal mud pack which uses mineral rich mud sourced from Heviz in Hungary and the Co2 Infusion Mineral Bath. 

Rates start from £125 per night based on two people sharing an Attic Room on a B&B basis; ensanahotels.com 

Lemons Cottage, Atherington, North Devon
Lemons Cottage, Atherington, North Devon

Nestled within the picturesque village of Atherington, Lemons Cottage is a newly renovated, thatched luxury cottage with a stylish contemporary interior. Sleeping up to six people, the quintessentially English property is a haven for families or groups of friends wanting to take a staycation. Guests can settle down for a film night in the cottage’s very own movie room with a massive 75-inch Sony Cinema TV. The cottage is situated just a short drive from the popular town of Barnstaple and is located to some beautiful nearby beaches in North Devon. 

Stay at Lemons Cottage from £235 per night (three-night minimum stay); sandandstoneescapes.com

Mitre Hampton Court, London
The Mitre Hampton Court, London 

British brand The Signet Collection has created a portfolio of hotels across the UK, each unique and all set in buildings of historical significance and grandeur. The first hotel to open is The Mitre Hampton, which sits on the banks of the River Thames. This Grade II-listed property dates back to 1665 and was originally used as ancillary accommodation for guests of King Charles II. The 36-bedroom hotel will include a riverside all-day dining and wine bar, brasserie, Orangery, riverside terrace along with meeting and private dining areas.

Prices start from £150 per room per night; mitrehamptoncourt.com

The Mayfair Townhouse, London
The Mayfair Townhouse, London

Drawing inspiration from the property’s flamboyant past the creators of this new high-end neighbourhood hotel promise an engaging, witty and curious experience – think Oscar Wilde meets Alice in Wonderland. The townhouse oozes opulence, mystery and sophistication with the Dandy Bar serving bespoke cocktails. A ground floor library space, private dining room and individually designed bedrooms, suites and penthouses boast little touches reflecting the hotel’s sense of humour and personality.

Opening 2 November; themayfairtownhouse.com

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